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#1
ok this is the one stop chat thread about jazz. Influences, advice and tips welcome!

what kind of scales are needed to start writing your own jazz lines?
#3
mostly mixolydian modes to
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#5
Jazz isn't about one scale. One thing that makes jazz so great is that it is totally free. The song can go in any direction. A great bass-specific example of this is Weather Report's "A Remark You Made" off of Heavy Weather.

As you can see from the chords marked off in this lead sheet, that the song is jumping all over the place.

It jumps in and out of minor/major modes time after time, drops the 3rd, and the 7th of the chord is constently moving around.



Now, there are about 7 or 8 "scales" used in this song. Jazz is all about the feel and groove. The song needs to keep moving. Composing jazz is much harder than composing classical, IMO. There is just so much going on at once, whether it be the steady pulse of a walking bassline, the smoothness of a sax solo, or the groove of the drums, jazz is just so hard to write.

There are scales that sound more jazzy than others. For instance, I find that Phrygian mode has a very jazzy sound to it. The phrygian will fit over a lot of the minor chords, such as a Cminor, or a Cmin7.

I suggest looking through a few online lesson sites to bone up on your theory before trying to tackle a jazz tune. Solo jazz bass is hard to play and write. It is a mix between your soul and the music you feel, and the theory behind classical music.

Go through these lessons, and take them to heart. After you do, then you will be able to write some great music.
http://www.lucaspickford.com/articles.htm

Good luck and have fun


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#6
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
Composing jazz is much harder than composing classical, IMO. There is just so much going on at once, whether it be the steady pulse of a walking bassline, the smoothness of a sax solo, or the groove of the drums, jazz is just so hard to write.


in my music theory class, there were always set rules to follow in classical, and when we were supposed to write our own pieces, we had a lot of freedom of course, but there was also a lot of rules and general forms to fall back on.

jazz doesnt have that. whats written doesnt even have to be followed neccessarily. ii/V chord improvisations, rythm phrasings in different time signatures, etc.

but its helluh fun to play.
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#7
I feel its harder because there are no limitations. Limitations will tell you pretty much what will sound good. In jazz, its all up to your ear. If you have a good ear, it should be easy to tell what will sound right. However, if you are just beginning to write jazz songs, a good ear is something that must be developed. Although, I agree that the limitations in classical music can get you stuck in a corner, but as you said, there is a lot to fall back on if you get stuck in a specific part in your composition.


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#8
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
I feel its harder because there are no limitations. Limitations will tell you pretty much what will sound good


lol, exactly what i was saying. yea, those rules in classical limit and help at the same time. very stange thing.

gimme jazz any day of the week, lol. except moonlight sanata, i love that song.
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#9
How difficult would it be for a reasonably proficient bassist with no fretless experience to learn to play upright for a jazz band in a short amount of time?
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#10
Quote by Yertle
How difficult would it be for a reasonably proficient bassist with no fretless experience to learn to play upright for a jazz band in a short amount of time?

well? looong time...

alright? a good while...

basics? a little bit...

it'd be easier if you got stickers to help mark the notes, i know that gets done on beginner violins...
#11
^Ya or tape or something. THe positions are the same. Get ready for major pain in your plucking finger(Once I created and popped a blister on the same finger during the same song but thats another story). Just practice a lot, it is the same instrument, just bigger.

EDIT: Correcet hand positioning is a lot more important IMO too.
#12
Quote by Yertle
How difficult would it be for a reasonably proficient bassist with no fretless experience to learn to play upright for a jazz band in a short amount of time?

Tryouts are comming up for me too. I'm really anxious. I can't sight read at all. For the tryouts the band director sits everyone down and passes out music. You have to sight read it well, or else you get the boot.

Tryouts are thursday, and I can't even get through a basic walking bassline peice without having to stop. I'm getting kind of frustrated. I started reading a week ago, and I'm really cramming right now.


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#13
Our band is a mix of reading chord changes and regualr sight reading. I can't tell which is harder, and i'm equally ill adept at both, but sight reading makes the most sense to me.

I'm going to have to learn the upright to play in jazz band, but I may be able to try out on electric. past years 0-4 bassists have auditioned, so I assume I have good chance unless i suck so much a keyboardist replaces me. Its all classic jazz, no weather report style stuff, and he has a grudge against electric bassists.
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#14
While we're speaking of fretless stuff, how hard would it be for a cellist to play on a fretless? Pure curiousity. I think I'd have a bit of an advantage.
#15
Quote by Yertle
Our band is a mix of reading chord changes and regualr sight reading. I can't tell which is harder, and i'm equally ill adept at both, but sight reading makes the most sense to me.

I'm going to have to learn the upright to play in jazz band, but I may be able to try out on electric. past years 0-4 bassists have auditioned, so I assume I have good chance unless i suck so much a keyboardist replaces me. Its all classic jazz, no weather report style stuff, and he has a grudge against electric bassists.

That sounds freakishly like my band except my teacher wanted me to play electric on one song...once...a year ago...


(And now you all can join my upright club )
#16
upright is NOTHING like frettless bass guitar. let me say that again, NOTHING!!!!

besides tuning and your mentality as a bass player, its a whole different beast, and damn its fun

but seriously, you wont be good for a very, very long time. just learn your positions, especially half and 1st.

half being your first finger on the F, A#, D#, or G#(first "frett"), about 1/2 inch down from the nut.

1st is your G, C, F, or A# (third "frett") about 3 inches from the the nut.

AND KEEP YOUR TRING FINGER AND PINKY TOGETHER, there is no 3rd finger position, only 1, 2, and 4.
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#17
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
Tryouts are comming up for me too. I'm really anxious. I can't sight read at all. For the tryouts the band director sits everyone down and passes out music. You have to sight read it well, or else you get the boot.

Tryouts are thursday, and I can't even get through a basic walking bassline peice without having to stop. I'm getting kind of frustrated. I started reading a week ago, and I'm really cramming right now.


i assumed you had sheet music down packed

i do i guess, im just rusty cause over the summer i hadnt been practicing sheet much at all.

The director likes me cause he knows im the better bassist at least in technical terms if not others, not going to go into full detail, but i actually practice at home.

Are you saying you've started reading sheet music ALL TOGETHER, a week ago? if so, i REALLY dont think you can get SIGHT READING down packed by thursday, not even nearly enough to get into jazz band. Just trying to be realistic. I did alto sax in gr7, so that was a full year of sheet music, and i skipped gr8 band (didnt play bass really at the time). When i went into gr9 band, i had a pretty hard time getting back into sheet music, it took me a month or two atleast just to get comfortable with sight reading again, and thats after i had a year experience with it.

Anyway: analyze what parts of sheet music youre weakest at right now, and work on that. If youre just "meh" overall, its better than having him say something like "well youre understanding of time and key signatures is great, but because you have trouble with sight reading, i cant allow you in".

If its sight reading, the best thing to do is find as much sheet music as you can until thursday and sight read all of it. If you feel theres a couple of things you can do to "cut corners" to learn sheet music better (like if you have to think about frets, and not notes) , it's ok if it REALLY means a lot to you to make it and you know you'll get the hang of it soon enough, but dont do that and stick with it for a long time. I tried doing it all by notes as early on as i could and its helped tons.

ALSO: if the director knows you have decent music theory knowledge (im pretty sure you do :p they like that too, especially if they ask you a few q's and you get em right. I'm pretty sure the other 2 bassists last year hated me
#18
Quote by grampastumpy
While we're speaking of fretless stuff, how hard would it be for a cellist to play on a fretless? Pure curiousity. I think I'd have a bit of an advantage.


Not very hard if your a cellist wanting to play double. Same Fingering notes.Tuning would take a bit getting used to 4ths after playing in 5ths on a cello.

but if your talking bout a cellist playing electric fretless bass probably not that much different cept that everythings on it's side and you can only pluck
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#19
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
Tryouts are comming up for me too. I'm really anxious. I can't sight read at all. For the tryouts the band director sits everyone down and passes out music. You have to sight read it well, or else you get the boot.

Tryouts are thursday, and I can't even get through a basic walking bassline peice without having to stop. I'm getting kind of frustrated. I started reading a week ago, and I'm really cramming right now.


Are you trying to learn the audition piece? Or just another piece of music? Also I'm surprised none of your band leaders have passed out the audition piece yet.

Learning to read music, and to sight read are not something you can 'cram' and learn to play. Sight reading is always a harder thing to do (taking in keys, looking for accidentals/key changes before you start playing). One trick while sight reading sheet music is to remain calm and always read atleast a note a head if possible.

Quote by grampastumpy
While we're speaking of fretless stuff, how hard would it be for a cellist to play on a fretless? Pure curiousity. I think I'd have a bit of an advantage.


It would a big challenge for a cellist to learn upright, since they both read bass clef, but have different tunings. The bowing style is also very different (dispite the obivous similarities) and the pizz. technique is also very different. It would be the equivalent of learning a completely new instrument.

On another note does anyone know of any good jazz ensembles? I'm looking for some new music.

I'm taking an Evolution of Jazz class this semester and it's awesome, once a week for three hours. The homework is to listen to select jazz pieces and memorize the name of the piece and the artist. This week is "Just a Walk Closer With Thee" by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, "Maple Leaf Rag" by Jellyroll Morton, "Dippermouth Blues" by King Oliver Creole Jazz band, "Livery Stable blues" by The Original Dixieland jazz band, and "Black Bottom Stomp" by Jellyroll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers.
Last edited by elemenohpee at Sep 6, 2006,
#20
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
Tryouts are thursday, and I can't even get through a basic walking bassline peice without having to stop. I'm getting kind of frustrated. I started reading a week ago, and I'm really cramming right now.


honstely just following the pattern is enough to get you through sometimes, if you see a V chord going down to a I chord, i wouldnt even bother with the sheet music, just make a walking line from point A to point B.

i butchered my audition for stage band horribly and still made it, even though ive been banned

it really just depends on the competition for the part, and if you show them basic knowledge and willingness about music in general, they're pretty lenient. its high school dude, not like your trying out for berkley
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#21
Sorry I wasn't able to discuss this right away... I was really tired last night. This is going to be a drawn out response to everyone else's post.

First off, I'll tell you how my band director does Jazz Band tryouts. There are 3 days of rehersal. One being tommorrow (thursday), one monday, and one next thursday. He gets everyone who wants to tryout together in the band room. He then hands out the music. He gives you the rythm, and then you play. Throughout the song, he will point to random people to have them solo. He does not give out the music before hand, and there are almost no chord symbols written in on the songs. I have most of the music last year, since I was friends with the former bass player (she was a senior). The tryout song last year was Mack the Knife by that german guy (i forget his name). It is a simple tune as far as rythms go, but the whole sheet was just a straight walking bassline. There are no chord symbols. Both my teacher and I feel it is unneccessary to write out a walking bassline. They should be developed originally by the player. He never taught me how to sight read a walking bassline, and told me that I would almost never see them. So, I brought the music to him on Tuesday, and we went through it all. I have so much trouble with it since there are no chord diagrams, and without the rest of the band, it is hard to tell where the bassline fits in. It just seems like a bunch of random notes to me. I have to stay in first position, since I can't tell what key its in (it is constantly changing without any warning), and I cant tell if its major/minor. All the sharps and flats are written in as needed, and there are none in the time signature.

Enough of my rant.
Starting with MangaBlade:
I can do sheet music fine. I just can't read walking basslines. They may have easy rythms, but without chord symbols, the notes are just totally random at first glance to me. I am trying to learn to read walking basslines in a week, which is competely new to me. I was always playing them based off of chord names (Cmin7b5, G6/9, etc.) Keep in mind that I do not have the sheet music to the songs yet, so I can not practice anything really except by playing walking bass.

I'm not really sure what you're getting at by saying "but i actually practice at home.", but I certainly practice at home. A good 2 hours a weeknight and 5 hours a weekend night are spent on practicing my instruments.

Elemenohpee:
As I said in the huge paragraph above, we don't get the music until the day of tryouts where we have to sight read it. I'm trying to cram for the written walking basslines. I can do the funk/progressive jazz much easier, since I play much more by ear. You can pretty much guess where a funk tune or prog. jazz tune is headed next. With a walking bassline, you could end up playing anywhere. That's why me and my teacher both agree that you should play the walking bassline straight from chord symbols, not written music. The written walking basslines are for bassists' who don't know their theory.

crazypeanutman:
The band director knows me from stage band. He knows I can read for my other few instruments, and he knows that I just started reading in january. He hasn't seen me play in any of my other gigs though. I get called in to sit in with bands all the time, and I know what I'm doing in rock. However, jazz is a completly other side of the mountain to me. I have just barely made it over the peak, and right now, the decent is looking lose and shakey.

Thanks to everyone who is helping me so far. I don't think I'm going to be getting very much sleep tonight. Jazz band is a big thing in our school. The band director will give out names of jazz band musicians when a local band needs a certain instrument to sit in with them, so its a great way to make a name for yourself and get recognized as a musician.


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#22
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
The band director will give out names of jazz band musicians when a local band needs a certain instrument to sit in with them, so its a great way to make a name for yourself and get recognized as a musician.

Wow, thats a really cool thing! Our band director brings in established muscians to critque us (i.e. Thelonious Monk's son), but the coolest thing was getting to play in Blues Alley, a famous club in DC that many greats started in the house band (Dizzy Gillespie). We also made a DVD and TV episode at our local town's media channel.
#23
^Last year, the jazz band went to this Jazz festival to play. Chic Corea and Butch Thompson talked to them about jazz and told them what they needed to do to play better. I thought that would have been awsome to sit through. I met Chic just a while ago though. He seemed like a great guy.

Making a Jazz Band DVD sounds like a lot of fun.


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#24
just cause you dont know what your doing, doesnt mean anyone else knows you dont

confidence man, even if its fake.
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#25
I'll turn the amp down and pretend to do crazy fills

Thanks again to everyone who helped me. I'm going to bed right now (which is REALLY early for me) since I know I'm not going to fall asleep.


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#26
we have a jazz forum................

edit: i made my jazz band....but they wouldnt let me play bass, the other bassists are all better than me so now i am on trumpet
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#27
Incubus, you can't just look at the first note and see if it goes up in thirds and then figure out the chord?


I still much prefer for the chord sheets, and Im not a very good sight reader by any means, but I think if you dont struggle with making walking lines on chord sheets you should be able to be able to just mentally make a chord sheet in your head.
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#28
Quote by timmEH

edit: i made my jazz band....but they wouldnt let me play bass, the other bassists are all better than me so now i am on trumpet


ouch, what a kick in the teeth.
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#29
Well, first day of tryouts are over! And I am very much relieved. My competition is moderate. There is a freshman girl that's only been playing for two years. She can't improvise... the other bassist is the orchestra's standup bassist. He's an awsome player, but again, isn't very good at improvising. Where I lack is in the sight reading of walking basslines...

Anyways, the first tune we got was a simple 12 bar blues in F. I aced that... I didn't look at the music, but instead just walked it, since I quickly recognized the patterns. I got a nice smile from the director. The second and last song we did was more of a Charles Mingus type jazz tune... it was written as a walking bassline without the chord symbols (my nightmare ). The orchestra bassist flew through it with only a few mistakes. The Freshman just stopped playing after the second measure, and I barreled straight through it. I assumed that if I can't get the melody right, at least I can still fill up the space between the drums and horns. I made it through, and i don't think anyone realized that I had terribly done something wrong, since they still heard something filling up that space. I used the rock-improvising skills I had from my lessons with Meatloaf's bassist. I listened for the root of the chord and type of chord (major/minor) and just jammed off of that.

After jazz band practice was over, me, a sax player, two drummers, and two guitarist started jamming. We started with Herbie Hancock's Chameleon, and then the jam kind of progressed into Dave Brubeck's Take Five, since the guitarist's solo sounded a lot like the piano melody. I really hope the band director heard some of our jamming, because that would have really boosted my chances of landing a spot in the band.

I also scored a gig with one of the sax player's jazz band since their bassist was gone for the weekend. It's sunday night at some jazz club near Danbury (I forgot the name...). One of the drummers also wanted to jam with me...

Overall, it was a lot of fun, and I don't really have any more worries. I'm really excited for monday's 6:00 tryout, and then the next one next thursday.


To Dan: There are no chords written in on any of the music, and I don't have time to go through and figure out all the chords. Again, thanks to everyone who is helping me out. You guys made it easier

EDIT: have fun with trumpet TimmEH. I wish I played a brass instrument.


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#30
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
The second and last song we did was more of a Charles Mingus type jazz tune... it was written as a walking bassline without the chord symbols (my nightmare )


lol,

i hear ya on that.
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#31
Most of this stuff sounded like a foreign language to me. I've only been playing since september 2005, so i just made it past my 1 year mark. I just made it into my school's jazz band, grades 9-12. I'm the only 9th grader in it. I seem to know next to nothing about theory. I can NOT sight read. Is there anywhere i can find some help on music theory and such? I would really like to learn this stuff, I'm a motivated player, and a dedicated one.
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#32
Quote by timmEH
we have a jazz forum................

edit: i made my jazz band....but they wouldnt let me play bass, the other bassists are all better than me so now i am on trumpet


Wow so you actually got the band together thats pretty cool bro... I asked my Jazz Band leader if I could play bass and he said he didn't know I played bass and walked away from me... (He didn't even look at me when I was talking to him... I wish he could atleast aknowledge me )
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#33
Glad the audition went well Incubus

Not totally jazz related, but the jazz band director offered me the role of bass player in the school musical. A good sign? Maybe...

Anyone heard Defunkt? Not true jazz, but fusion type music. Most of it anyway...
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Quote by crazypeanutman

damn yertle, you got some groove
#34
^Any invite is good, show him what you got!

Lucky for me, I've gotten really pretty good at sightreeding walking bass lines on upright, so that helps me out a lot in tryouts and learning new songs in class. Sightreading rythms and melodies are a different challenge however.

To everyone who made their bands!
#35
I'd kill to play bass in our musical. The musical's band usually consists of 3 players in our school: the best drummer, the best bassist, and the best sax player. Go for it Yertle!!!

And to Your41Plague23: try the lessons on http://www.lucaspickford.com and the reading lessons on http://www.cyberfretbass.com If you can get through those, especially the LucasPickford ones, you will be set.


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#36
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
I'd kill to play bass in our musical. The musical's band usually consists of 3 players in our school: the best drummer, the best bassist, and the best sax player. Go for it Yertle!!!


It does however, drastically conflict with Cross Country. Unless I can work some truly convincing works of persuasion, my coach will skin me.
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Quote by crazypeanutman

damn yertle, you got some groove
#37
Tell your band director to call me and I'll sit in

There is always the spring musical, if this one doesn't work out. Try to do a day of the musical a week. That's one day off from cross country a week...


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#38
The band teacher seemed to want me at all practices, but I could talk to him again. And I don't think there is a spring musical, though I am not sure.
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Quote by crazypeanutman

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#39
Quote by Your41Plague12
Most of this stuff sounded like a foreign language to me. I've only been playing since september 2005, so i just made it past my 1 year mark. I just made it into my school's jazz band, grades 9-12. I'm the only 9th grader in it. I seem to know next to nothing about theory. I can NOT sight read. Is there anywhere i can find some help on music theory and such? I would really like to learn this stuff, I'm a motivated player, and a dedicated one.


IM me on AIM and I'll take you as far as I can with theory. I'm not very good at sight reading but I'd like to think I'm OK with the rest of it; I can (ironically) sight read treble clef (...helpful, no?) and I can read and get it in 10-20/some more minutes in bass, cause I know the notes its just that I haven't practiced sight reading enough (somehow trumpet sight reading really drove in on me what I was doing, and it still somehow reached me on bass).
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#40
Quote by UtBDan
IM me on AIM and I'll take you as far as I can with theory. I'm not very good at sight reading but I'd like to think I'm OK with the rest of it; I can (ironically) sight read treble clef (...helpful, no?) and I can read and get it in 10-20/some more minutes in bass, cause I know the notes its just that I haven't practiced sight reading enough (somehow trumpet sight reading really drove in on me what I was doing, and it still somehow reached me on bass).


The reason sight reading carried over from trumpet is, even though it's a different clef, it is the same basic idea. The only way to become good at sight reading is to sight read often. My orchestra conductor used to tell me that you ability to sight read really marked your ability on an instrument.

Which brought me to a thought about incubus's conductor and how he is running auditions.

Jazz is improvisation. (As my current professor says) "That's what makes it Jazz, it's different every night it is played, because everybody is improvising all the time." And sight reading is just a step above improv.

When you are sight reading a sheet of music (in a group), if you get lost you should not just stop in the middle of the song, but instead improvise based on your previous knowledge of the piece. Incubus, your conductor is a smart, smart man. I wish my conductors had held auditions in that manor. (Even though I had been classicaly trained for most of my life.)

As a quick note, most auditions for orchestras are prepaired pieces, where as an audition for a jazz group is usually a sit-in sight reading session.
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